By Noel Wandera Equity Bank on Wednesday evening celebrated 35 years of operations amidst pomp and colour, with Group chief executive James Mwangi saying the bank is in line to double its balance sheet and hit the Sh1 trillion mark. Currently, the bank has a balance sheet of Sh573 million, an 11 per cent rise from Sh524 million it announced in 2017. \u201cBy the end of this year, we are targeting to achieve a balance sheet of Sh1 trillion,\u201d said Mwangi. The bank has maintained its position as Kenya\u2019s second-most-profitable lender, with strong growth in income from government securities lifting its net profit by five per cent to Sh19.8 billion in 2018. The bank announced a Sh12 billion half year net profit for the year to June 30, 2019. The Pan African bank, which focuses on lower-income part of the market, boasts 14.5 million customers with branches in Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Rwanda. It plans to expand its operations into the Democratic Republic of Congo by acquiring a 79 per cent stake in ProCredit Bank Congo. The transaction is subject to completion of due diligence, entering of detailed transactions agreements and shareholder and regulatory approvals from the Capital Markets Authority and the Central Banks of Kenya and Congo. \u201cWe have the commitment of scaling our services across Africa. We believe Africa can be free of poverty and become prosperous. Equity is one such institution that is committed to play a catalytic role in the transformation of our people and the continent,\u201d said Mwangi. During Wednesday\u2019s celebrations, Equity unveiled a new logo without an entity name such as group or bank, which Mwangi said signifies the ongoing journey of transformation and regional expansion. The new logo follows an extensive three-year process of sounding out its current and future customer segments. \u201cAt the age of 35, we can be bolder, audacious, and fearless in the pursuit of the mission we have for our people,\u201d he said. Henceforth, Equity will sell as a unified brand with a basket of products under one roof ranging from banking, insurance, and investment. \u201cThe evolution of our brand is an important part of our strategy for continued market leadership as well as being integral to the promise we made to all our stakeholders when we began our journey of transformation to modernise and do all we can to serve our customers,\u201d he said. Mwangi said the refreshed look will first be rolled out in Kenya and eventually in all other markets. Yesterday, the bank was busy fixing the new signage in all its branches, as part of the refurbishment plan to modernise and update its distribution network which includes branches, ATMs, online platforms and third-party outlets. Mwangi said, in a bid to unlock new opportunities within the growing digital banking space, Equity will continually focus on operational efficiencies, driven through innovations. Under the scheme, customers will be further enabled to interact with the bank on self-service channels of mobile and internet devices or on the 3rd party low variable cost infrastructure of more than 46,000 agents and more than 27,000 merchants. \u201cIn developing this identity, we emphasize that our customers come first and that our primary focus is to ensure we are prepared and well positioned to meet all the needs of our stakeholders in an effective and seamless manner,\u201d he said. \u201cEquity has continued to play a leading role in the growth and prosperity of Kenya,\u201d said Mwangi adding: \u201cOur brand has carried us through a disruptive and trailblazing 35 years. During the period, we have evolved from a small building society to a leading bank in East and Central Africa.\u201d The bank is a leader in the digital space. Through its social impact investments, it is securing the youth in Kenya through its flagship \u201cWings to Fly\u201d programme that moulds children from disadvantaged families into servant leaders position.